Being Bisexual in College

Originally posted on NextGenJournal.com. For original, please refer to: Being Bisexual in College – NextGen Journal.

Does bisexuality exist?

It’s a question I hear more often than I’m comfortable with. Even more uncomfortable is the number of times people answer ‘no.’ As someone who identified as bisexual after first coming out of the closet, I’ve personally seen the skepticism in friends’ eyes as I came out to them. Constant confusion about my self-identification and whether others believed in my attraction to women led me to dropping calling myself bi entirely and identifying purely as gay during my sophomore year.

That decision is one I deeply regret, but given the chance, I would probably make once again. When pressed to explain, I have a little prepared speech about being a ‘functional bisexual,’ but that I’m not very emotionally attracted to women. Of course, that only causes the inquirer’s eyes to glaze over. So calling myself gay is simply easier. The problem is that sexual identity isn’t supposed to be about convenience, for others or myself.

Bisexuality is perhaps the most misunderstood mainstream sexual orientation – almost everyone knows the term and uses it, but almost no one fully grasps exactly how bisexuality works. Is it a 50-50 split? Is it all about sexual attraction? What part does emotion play? Or dating habits?

What is it about bisexuality that perplexes society so? My theory is that it’s about our binary culture. In a world where you’re expected to be red or blue, left or right, yes or no, etc., it can be hard to swallow an ‘option C.’ Even the gay community as a whole often doesn’t have the highest view of bisexuality – the common complaints are of using ‘bi’ as a transitional term on their way to a more absolute sexuality, or that they’re really just experimenting. They’d rather see an absolute answer versus somewhere in the middle.

As a society, I’d say that America is afraid of the middle. Look at this current presidential election: Republican candidate Mitt Romney is being harangued by the far right flank of his party to appeal to the conservative base despite his more centrist, moderate roots. By that same token, someone who doesn’t want to be pinned down into one of two sexual norms is confusing and challenging. So instead of trying to understand bisexuality, society simply shuns it.

I like to think about bisexuality in terms of Kinsey. Alfred Kinsey, that is. Don’t know him? You should; he invented the Kinsey scale in 1948. The seven-point scale is used to measure how homosexual or heterosexual a person is. The lower the number, the ‘straighter’ someone is, and vice versa. Zero is completely straight, and six is completely gay. Most humans fall from one to five. Three is completely 50-50 bisexual.

Personally, I’d put myself at five. I know fellow gay men who would rank at four or five. I also know self-identified straight men that would rank at one or two.  But I’m not sure I know anyone at either extreme. I don’t even know a pure bisexual three. So almost everyone I know is somewhere in the middle. It’s no wonder Kinsey isn’t that well-known nationwide – his system would force almost all people into an area they just aren’t comfortable with.

My grand idealistic hope is that one day, sexuality won’t have to be labeled – people will just be with who they want, without regard for arcane social norms. But I’m not very idealistic; I don’t think that future is coming any time soon. So here’s my hope in the meantime: if it tickles your fancy, allow yourself to let go in college.

Truly, there’s not a time in life that’s better suited for experimenting – college is meant for discovering things about you. Plus, there are already many cases of girls making out with other girls – it’s glorified by straight men in society. So let’s just apply that same precedent to everyone. Don’t be shy about your urges – no time like the present to seize the day and learn something about yourself. It’s not all about experimenting sexually, either – you can go out on a date and appreciate new, wonderful emotional connections.

For those of you who aren’t as inclined to experiment, don’t worry, we won’t judge you; that is, of course, assuming you won’t judge us. It’s a two-way street. Not everyone is bisexual, and not everyone should be expected to be. But as long as society still judges it, we’ll still have a major problem.

So until a bigger ideological shift comes along, let’s try this plan on for size.  After all, as Woody Allen once said, “Bisexuality does double your chances for a date on Saturday night.” I, for one, could use more Saturday nights out on a date. Couldn’t you?

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Oscar

Diversity of Direction

Originally posted as part of Road to the Gold, an Oscar blog on LALoyolan.com. For original, please refer to: Diversity of Direction – Los Angeles Loyolan : Road To The Gold.

Oscar

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Forget the golden days of merely two years ago: there is no diversity allowed in the Best Director Oscar race.

Save a few extraordinary directors such as Ang Lee (“Brokeback Mountain”) and Jane Campion (“The Piano”), recognition of anyone who doesn’t fit into the slim “older-white-male” demographic seemed nigh impossible for the Best Director voting body in the Academy.

When “The Hurt Locker” director Kathryn Bigelow won the statuette in 2010, her victory was seen as a sign of changing tides in the white men’s club that the Best Director race has always been. After all, in the same year, Lee Daniels (“Precious”) was only the second African-American man ever to be nominated for the same award (after John Singleton). Unfortunately, in the years since, the Academy has reverted to what is familiar once again.

Last year, the overflow of white, male directors was acceptable simply because they were almost all young and ambitious. The winner, Tom Hooper, directed “The King’s Speech,” and while his film appealed primarily to older audiences, he is a young man. David Fincher, director of “The Social Network,” and Darren Aronofsky, director of “Black Swan,” are both incredibly ambitious and respected in film criticism circles. Even the veterans of the category, David O’Russell (“The Fighter”) and Joel and Ethan Coen (“True Grit”), are a much different brand than the usual directing nominees.

This year is not an exception to the rule. Certainly, Woody Allen (“Midnight in Paris”), Alexander Payne (“The Descendants”) and Martin Scorsese (“Hugo”) are masters of their craft, and Michel Hazanavicius (“The Artist”) and Terrence Malick (“The Tree of Life”) are certainly ambitious, but they are very much the stereotype of a Best Director nominee. The youngest of the five is Hazanavicius at 44 – not coincidentally, he is the only first-time nominee. All the others have been here before; Scorsese and Allen have both won previously as well.

Why not nominate the young Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn for “Drive”? Or how about the female African-American director of the ambitious “Pariah,” Dee Rees? There’s nothing wrong with stacking a category with lots of experience – in fact, the Best Director race should theoretically reward experience more than any other. It is a little disappointing, however, that ambition and diversity can’t be rewarded in equal measure. As far as the winner, look no further than Hazanavicius. The youngest will be rewarded thanks to his film’s almost certain dominance of the show next Sunday.